Thai cuisine has gained much popularity throughout the world. Each recipe is created with harmony as the key ingredient. Traditional Thai foods were mainly seafood that were stewed or baked and included a variety of plant life and herbs. The Portuguese introduced chilies to the Thais in the late 1600’s and Thai food soon took on new flavors. A complete Thai meal generally consists of a soup, a curry-based dish or spicy salad served with condiments, fish, vegetables and a dipping sauce. If the soup is spicy then the curry dish should be replaced with a mild dish, thus creating a harmonious meal.
While traditional Thai recipes are prepared in a more healthy manner like baking, Chinese influences introduced frying to the Thai cuisine during the 17th century. Pla Rad Prik is simply a Thai prepared style of fish that is fried and served with a rich chili sauce. The dish is commonly served with rice and condiments like Nam pla prik or Prik dong. Finding authentic Thai ingredients can still be hard to find in small markets so I have provided alternatives to some of the ingredients.
1/4 large fish (approximately 1 pound), cleaned. Use a fish that will hold up well to the frying such as sea bass, salmon or red snapper.
Oil (Peanut or Vegetable for frying)
2 large garlic cloves, chopped
Green Prik chee-fa or jalapeno peppers, approximately 1/4 cup
Red Prik chee-fa or jalapeno pepper, approximately 1/4 cup
1 large shallot, sliced thin
3-4 coriander leaves, chopped
1/4 cup Nam pla or fish sauce
1 tablespoon sugar or palm sugar
3-4 fresh basil leaves, chopped
3 sprigs of young green peppercorn
-Cut several slashes in the side of the fish. Dash both sides with the rice wine and dust with the flour. Deep fry in the oil until brown and crisp.
-In a saucepan or wok, fry the chilies and onions in a small amount of oil for just a few minutes. Add the fish sauce and bring to a boil. Add the sugar and stir until dissolved. Add the coriander leaves and cook until slightly reduced. Remove from the heat and allow to cool. Add the basil to the sauce when cooled. The peppercorns are gently fried without breaking them apart. This sprig will be placed on top of the fish when served.
This can be served several ways. Traditionally, the fish is placed on a platter with the sprigs on top and the sauce, rice and condiments provided separately. If you prefer, the sauce can be poured on the fish and then served.
The two common condiments Nam pla prik and Prik dong are simple to prepare. Nam pla prik can be made with 2/3 cups of Thai chili peppers and some fish sauce. This is best used after allowing it to set for about a week. Prik dong is 2/3 cups Thai chili peppers and white rice vinegar. Both should be prepared in a one pint jar and the liquid is filled to the top of the jar after the chilies.
The sauces can be adjusted to suit your palate. The Thai food that we enjoy today has seen many changes from the influences of other cultures. When preparing a Thai dinner, remember to integrate the five tastes-sweet, sour, spicy, bitter and salty. Thai cuisine is not about a certain dish but the entire meal and how the flavors of the meal work together.